Hope Has a Cold Nose – September Update

Hope Has a Cold Nose Final Final (2)

Dear Readers,

That’s the thing about pain; it demands to be felt. – John Green, The Fault in our Stars

During the month of September, I was blessed yet again to have my path intersect with two extraordinary and wise teachers. Both gentlemen are veterans, and both gave me the sacred gifts of their trust, as well as the precious commodity of their time. Both reminded me not only of the power of hope; both reinforced that in pain, trauma, sorrow, and despair can be found purpose. That when there is suffering, there is also opportunity to build something greater.

As one dear individual shared in his wisdom about bad things that happen in life: What matters isn’t if we can stop it or not. Eventually bad things happen. Our ability to overcome and move through them – not to get over them but move through them…[to] garner…and make it into something good is what is truly important.

The other dear individual wisely shared how we have forgotten in our culture that many things which have been made better are a result of suffering that has occurred. We can think of cures for diseases or technology advancements that we would not have had if it weren’t for the suffering that demanded improvement. Out of suffering comes strength… [It is] learning to overcome and adjust to suffering. We try to escape suffering. {We forget that} suffering has a point!

And both wise teachers reinforced the role that each of us can play in reducing the suicide rate to zero. When we listen, when we truly listen to understand, we create the space in which someone can feel a sense of acceptance and belonging. It is not necessarily about accepting someone else’s viewpoint as our own, but it is about accepting that the person with a different narrative has a story and a perspective worthy of being heard. As one wisely shared, we are social people.The majority of human coping is [done] socially. The spiral of disconnection spins faster and faster when someone feels they are not worthy of being connected.

Or said even more powerfully to an audience recently it is not necessarily that veterans find it hard to ask [for help]. We got through the service by asking for help. It depends on who we are asking. We test the waters to see if those we tell will not reject the way we feel. Will someone listen to try and understand from the teller’s point of view? Or will the person be listening to try and fit it into their own understanding?

Repulsive. A word spoken to the audience. A word that fits into my own pre-conceived understanding of such synonyms as “ugly” and “disgusting” and invokes personal feelings that whisper, “push away” and “reject”. And yet, such truth in how this word was used for the audience. It is repulsive, evil to talk about suicide or the reasons why someone would think of suicide.

What if we strived instead to swallow our uncomfortableness and listen?    

I read this quote recently by Sue Monk Kidd: I have noticed recently that if you look carefully at people’s eyes, the first five seconds they look at you, the truth of their feelings will shine through, for just a second before it flickers away. How many eyes do those struggling with pain, trauma, sorrow, and despair look into and see in the first five seconds DO NOT SHARE?

What if we could open our hearts so that our eyes began to read, I may not know what it is to walk in your shoes, but I am willing to listen because your narrative matters?

I can’t help thinking we would create a sense of belonging and acceptance.

And a suicide rate would decline.



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